Day 8 and 9 – Wildlife Trust reserves

Yesterday and today, I visited two different Wildlife Trust reserves. The first was a new one to me, Strawberry Banks and the second, I visited last year.

So I was mainly looking for orchids yesterday and I found some! Lots of them. And one I’d never seen before – the (Greater?) Butterfly Orchid.

Today I went with a couple of work colleagues to Daneway Banks. We went looking for the famous and very rare Large Blue butterflies, who should be merging from the ants nests by now (Yes! Ants nests!), but the up and down weather seems to have delayed things. We’ll be back 🙂

We did spot more Orchids, a few Common Blue butterflies and lots of day flying moths, a very interesting looking fungus plus a passing Lepidopterist! There’s always something to see at a Wildlife Trust reserve 🙂

P.S. The header image is of a log that has one of my favourite fungi growing in it – Green Elf Cup (Chlorociboria aeruginascens). It isn’t fruiting at the moment, but you can see the bluey/green staining of the mycelium. This type of stained wood is used still in ‘Tumbridgeware’ and parquetry.

Day 4 – My wild garden

I like growing things and I like things growing, but I’m not too fussy what it is. Here’s a few wild spots in my garden, I spent the evening looking at them quite intensely after I mowed (most of) the lawn.

I spent a lot of time watching the tadpoles after feeding them some fish food. Here’s some footage of a feeding frenzy that was already under way, I think it’s a bit of cannibalism! Or perhaps it kinder to say that they’re taking advantage of some available protein….

I’m really chuffed with the pond (apart from the visible lining of course!) It’s my first pond and it only took a couple of hours to make. It took a while longer to fill but that’s another story…

I’ll be looking at the pond in more detail later in the month, and hopefully I’ll be able to tell you more about the newt that has moved in.

Day 3 – A Stroll by the River Frome

This is my new favourite lunchtime spot. It’s 2 minutes from where I work, just past the canal.

It’s like a little oasis of wildness, yes there’s road noise from the A419 that runs parallel to the River Frome, but the wildlife doesn’t seem to care.

It is called Frome Banks and is looked after by the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and Stroud Valleys Project. This riverside woodland is a Key Wildlife Site and was established in 1990 and actually grew out of a rubbish tip. It’s a real triumph of nature. The work carried out originally to make this area into part of Stroud’s green heritage was by Gloucestershire Wildlife Management, the Stroud Valleys Project and the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers. I love them for it. ALOT. I’m not sure what the current status is, but a couple of years ago – it was under threat from developers. It’s making me get a bit tearful thinking about losing this lovely site, I only discovered it a month or so ago and I’ve had some of the best nature experiences of my life there already – on my lunch break. I saw Kingfishers fledging a couple of weeks ago! SO MANY KINGFISHERS!!! <3

Today I didn’t see any Kingfishers, and I saw lots of things that were too quick to photograph but I did manage to film a Dipper dipping 🙂 I filmed it at 50 frames per second, so I was able to slow it down and at the end of the video below, I zoom in so you can see a slow motion dipper dive! I also put a bit of music on there because slowed down river noise sounds a bit scary!!

I also took a few snaps:

30 Days Wild

I’ve signed up to the Wildlife Trust’s ’30 Days Wild’ campaign, and I plan on actually blogging on here every day (I know right!) with details of my wild antics.

I’m not *really* organised enough to plan 30 days of activity in advance and weather will always play a part but I like to ‘go wild’ as often as possible, so I fully expect to be able to pull this off ad-hoc…

I joined my local Wildlife Trust on my birthday this year (and the local Fungus Group – thanks Auntie Janet!), so I’ll try and visit as many local sites and reserves as possible and share some pics/stories.

Snake’s Head Fritillary are off the list, but I had the pleasure of seeing them while they were in flower in Cricklade North Meadow National Nature Reserve a few weeks ago!

The Wood Wide Web

I recently became obsessed with fungi (as anyone who follows my instagram will know!) and this article on the BBC Earth site helps explain why I am becoming more passionate about mushrooms the more I find out about them:

It’s an information superhighway that speeds up interactions between a large, diverse population of individuals. It allows individuals who may be widely separated to communicate and help each other out. But it also allows them to commit new forms of crime.

No, we’re not talking about the internet, we’re talking about fungi. While mushrooms might be the most familiar part of a fungus, most of their bodies are made up of a mass of thin threads, known as a mycelium. We now know that these threads act as a kind of underground internet, linking the roots of different plants. That tree in your garden is probably hooked up to a bush several metres away, thanks to mycelia.

Read much more here: Plants have a hidden internet

There’s also a great little set of videos by the Open University here that cover some of those topics:

Enjoy!